(posted Saturday, October 15, 2005)

“Woo Kyun,” People’s Blade waved her arm to a simple chair, “I am glad you could join me this morning. Would you like some tea?”

“Xie xie nin, commissar.” 5 Year Plan quietly sat and took the cup offered him.

Both of them sat in the still morning, looking out on the garden that lay on the headquarter grounds.

People’s Blade gave a small smile. “I hope you are well. And have adjusted since…your return.”

“Shi de, commissar,” 5 Year Plan shifted somewhat in his seat. “ It seems much has changed, while many things have not.” He took a long draught of tea. “I still feel somewhat out of place.”

“Woo Kyun,” Fei Li’s hand clasped 5 Year Plan’s wrist and tightened. The smooth skin on her forearm tensed as her muscles flexed like steely coils. “What happened to you? How could you have possibly returned?”

“I… I remember little before…” His voice trailed off and retuned with halting breaths. “I remember a terrible fight with uniformed men. And some fiery explosion that consumed me. Then…” his eyes shifted slightly, “just blackness.”

5 Year Plan carefully placed his cup down. “And then I awoke. I was covered in some arcane writings. I was lying on a simple wooden table. Around me on the floor were intricate patterns written in red ink. The room I was in had a soft unearthly glow.”

“I stepped out of the room and found myself in some underground passage that lead to a pile of rubble. I was able to move much of it aside and emerged,” 5 Year Plan’s eyes darkened, “Commissar, I emerged in the remnants of some horrific battle. All around me were charred bodies of monks and what must have been Triad. The entire structure was gutted from an enormous fire.”

“I was alone and in eastern Tibet. I was uncomfortable approaching our government. So I had managed to travel discretely and contact old friends that could get me out of the country.” His lips pursed. “I felt I should return here. I had some odd thought, that once here,” 5 Year Plan let out a sigh, “that I could find some reason for why I returned. And who was responsible.”

Fei Li looked at him and her jaw clenched slightly, “Dui, comrade. I am unsure if we will find who is responsible for this, but we will try. For now,” she smiled. “It is good to have you back among our ranks again, Woo Kyun.”

The grainy black and white image jarred to a halt as the surveillance tape stopped.

“That was the end of their conversation.” A uniformed man stood rigidly, leafed through a file and continued. “Our operatives have not observed any intelligence activities from CCCP other than those directed to local criminal elements.”

“Does he suspect who was responsible for his death?” General Alexander Rokossovsky growled. He leaned back in his chair and looked through a series of black and white photographs on his desk. “Or who was responsible for locking his remains away with the Ministry of State Security?”

“No, sir. In fact from our transcripts it is clear he still holds the greatest suspicion towards Chinese Intelligence organizations.”

“Good.” General Alexander Rokossovsky gathered up the photographs with his meaty hands. “Now,” he scowled “how did our Chinese Ministry operatives misjudge our Triad friends? How did they fail to realize what they would do with his remains once we let them pilfer it from that secured compound?”

“That,” the uniformed man shifted uncomfortably, “we are still trying to ascertain, sir.”

“Correct me if I am wrong, ” The General’s hand clenched tightly into a thick fist. “They were supposed to exchange the remains with our operatives. Instead they sought out some arcane magicians?” Rokossovsky snorted and pawed at a photograph of burned ruins among snow-capped mountains. “These monks. These magicians? That somehow they were able to reconstitute his body and raise him from the dead?”

“Our arcane experts are rather unfamiliar with the techniques they employed. But many suspect that the Triad sought to employ some form of binding ritual, to keep him under control of the summoner.”

“It seems they underestimated the moral resolve of these monks.” The General’s eyes hardened. “They fought to the death, even razing their temple to prevent these Triad.” He glared at the man before him. “Maintain efforts to keep CCCP under observation. And I want the operation reports sealed and kept within Division Two. I am beginning to suspect we have some counter intelligence problems of our own. You are dismissed.”

The young man nodded curtly, and strode out of the small office quickly. As the door closed, General Alexander Rokossovsky held up a photograph of a ruined military complex, with twisted steel girders and ruptured earth scarred black from fire. “I sincerely hope you are happy to remain with your ‘family’. I will be sure to make things hell if you dig further into your past…”